Feathered asparagus fern

Native to South Africa, feathered asparagus fern is a fast-growing climber often used as a garden plant. It causes serious environmental problems if it escapes into bushland, where it can smother native vegetation, especially in dry rainforest.

Feathered asparagus fern is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Asparagus plumosus

Description

  • Fast-growing plant that can climb up to 5m.
  • Stems can be metres long.
  • Leaves are very fine.
  • Stems are thorny.
  • Underground rhizomes are strong.
  • Flowers are bell-shaped, greenish-white, 5-7mm wide
  • Berries are green, ripening to black, 4-5mm wide.
  • Roots are swollen, thick, do not produce tubers.
  • Appearance and impacts are very similar to A. africanus except A. plumosus has black berries while A. africanus has orange berries.

Habitat

  • Temperate to subtropical areas.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Most common near Brisbane.
  • Unconfirmed reports that it is naturalised near Cairns in north Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Produces flowers and berries spring–autumn.
  • Each berry contains 1 seed.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Smothers native vegetation, especially in dry rainforest.

How it is spread

  • Spread by birds and dumping of garden waste.

Control

Physical control

  • Prevent birds from accessing berries.
  • Dig out roots and dispose of at your local waste facility.
  • Remove entire crown and underground stem to prevent regrowth. This requires digging underneath central growing point and lifting it out of ground. Any regrowth that occurs can be kept under control by regular mowing or digging out.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

See the Asparagus fern fact sheet (PDF, 1.5MB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Declaration details

  • Feathered asparagus fern is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

More information

Contact us

Call your local government office, or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Last updated
01 July 2016